PARIS French President Francois Hollande condemned the shooting of a prominent Tunisian opposition figure on Wednesday, saying he was concerned by the rise of violence in France's former colony.
Shokri Belaid, a staunch secular opponent of the moderate Islamist-led government, died in hospital after being shot in the capital Tunis, exacerbating tensions between Islamists and secularists that have risen since the Islamist Ennahda Movement won an election in October 2011.
"This murder deprives Tunisia of one of its most courageous and free voices," Hollande's office said in a statement.
"France is concerned by the mounting political violence in Tunisia and calls for the ideas cherished by the Tunisian people during their revolution to be respected," the statement said.
President Moncef Marzouki cut short a visit to France earlier on Wednesday after the killing, which brought about 1,000 protesters out onto the streets outside the interior ministry.
(Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Jon Boyle)